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HVFCo Auxiliary: Many Reasons to Join

By Kathy Brown.

This is the second part of a look into the Haddam Volunteer Fire Company’s Auxiliary. The first part, which included the history of the organization, can be found here.

HVFCo Auxiliary group picture (2015)

HVFCo Auxiliary group picture (2015)

The Haddam Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary was organized in September 1966 to support the Haddam Volunteer Fire Department by providing refreshments during major fires, raising funds to purchase firefighting items, and to help in other ways. People join the Auxiliary for many reasons. Here are the stories of some of the current members.

Mary Nork (current president) joined the Auxiliary because “at the time my husband was a fireman, and I thought it was a good opportunity to meet the other firemen’s wives.” However, Nork said, “I soon found out that the organization had a wonderful mix of dedicated members, some of which had no other family member serving as a fire volunteer.  They just wanted to do something for the community, and along the way develop lasting friendships.”

Michele Oulette says, “Steve, my husband, was a longtime member of the fire department and my son, Zack, is a Junior Firefighter. I joined many years ago, I think around 1990, to support Steve. I took a leave of absence for a few years during graduate school and then re-joined after Zack joined the Junior Fire Department in 2012.” There are many ways to be involved, Oulette says, “I have marched in the Memorial Day Parade several times. However, for the past few years, instead of marching, I have handed out water to the marchers during the parade and during the ceremony on the Green, and then helped sell chowder.”

Elaine Parmelee has a long history with the Fire Department and the Auxiliary. She says, “I  was 3 years old when the Auxiliary started and for a while when I joined back in 1983, I was one of the youngest members. The reason I joined is that I grew up around the firehouse. My father Charles Parmelee was an assistant chief and was a fireman for many years until he took his life membership. I also liked to help out when I was a teenager so when I was almost finished with college, at age 20, I joined the Auxiliary and have been helping out for years.” Her family has served in many ways. Parmelee says, “My mother was a charter member in 1966. She then became a life member. I met my husband Seth through the fire department in 1989. Our son, Eric, was a junior fire fighter and EMT for Haddam Fire and then went to Southern Maine Community College for the Fire Science Program. He now lives in Maine working as a dispatcher and firefighter. In a sense, three generations in all aspects of Haddam Fire for the Parmelee/Jackson Family.”

Some members just want to give back. Candy Veazie has been a member since 2011. She says, “I wanted to give back to the men/women in the Fire Company for all they do for the community. I was born and raised with men in my family being a part of the Department and have many good friends who Volunteer also.” Her father and brother are both Life Members, and her nephew, Kyle Vallera, is a Lieutenant with the Fire Company.

Diane Andrews joined when asked by another member in 1974-5 because “partly [it was] a night out with other women and [I] felt it was a worthwhile cause to be involved with.” She also had family in the HVFCo, “my brother and three cousins were members, also my brother-in-law who continues to serve with over 45 years of service.”
Betty Cernan, who is a charter member, says, “I have been an Auxiliary member for all 50 years. My husband and his friends were firemen back in 1966, so several of the wives decided to support the Fire Department, and we became charter members. I marched in the Memorial Day parade every year up until four years ago, but I still sell the chowder after the parade.”

Marion Harlow, on the other hand, doesn’t have any family members in the HVFCo. She says, “Two years ago my husband passed away and my children were grown, so I decided to join the Auxiliary. My mother-in-law was a charter member and active for years, so I always thought it would be nice to join the group. I have marched in the parades since becoming a member.”

Carolyn Schuler thought it would be a way to meet people when she moved to town. She says, “I became a member in May 2014 after we moved to Higganum from Phoenix, AZ thinking that joining the HVFCo Auxiliary would be a way to get involved with the town. My husband Carl was a member of the HVFCo and the Haddam Volunteer Ambulance Service in the late 1970s and early 1980s.”

Membership is always open to anyone who is 18 years of age or older, who is a resident of Haddam, Higganum, or Haddam Neck, and feel they could support the organization and fire personnel in the number of projects and services they provide. Meetings are on the 4th Monday of each month at 7 pm at Station #1. If interested or for more information, email haddamfireaux@gmail.com.

To celebrate 50 years, the HVFCo Auxiliary has made a commemorative 16-month calendar, which starts with September 2016 (see article here). They will feature pictures of members and events going back to the early ’70s. These calendars will sell for $15 each. The calendars are available now and can be purchased from any Auxiliary member or from the Town Clerk’s office. For more information, call Elaine at 860-345-7755.

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